Veterans of Israel’s Foreign Press Association were saddened this week to learn of the death at 83 of their longtime colleague Cordelia Edvardson.

From 1977 to 2006 she was the Middle East correspondent for the Swedish daily newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

Somewhat eccentric, with her own particular dress code, Edvardson who was born in Germany in 1929 and raised as a Catholic, had her Jewish identity thrust on her by the Nazis.

Born out of wedlock to well-known writer Elisabeth Langgasser who had conceived her in the course of a romance with a married man, Edvardson was raised Catholic though she had Jewish genes on both sides of her family. Her father was Jewish and her mother, though Catholic, was the daughter of a Jewish father who had converted. This was all the Nazis needed to label the young Cordelia as Jewish and to persecute her mother as well. Both managed to survive the Holocaust.

Edvardson was a survivor of both Theresienstadt and Auschwitz. After locking up her emotions for years, she finally brought them to the surface in her 1984 autobiography, Burned Child Seeking the Fire, for which she won the German Geschwister-Scholl literary award.

She moved to Sweden soon after the war and married a Protestant with whom she had several children She was not a stay-at-home wife and mother and embarked on an impressive career as an award winning journalist.

She was passionate about her work and in Israel had no qualms at press conferences over launching verbal assaults at prime ministers, defense ministers and foreign ministers over what she perceived to be Israel’s unjust treatment of Palestinians.

She was equally passionate about the things she loved about Israel, and would have remained in the country and in her beloved Jerusalem indefinitely but for the fact that she suffered respiratory problems resulting both from heavy smoking and a collapsed lung acquired in Auschwitz. As she grew older, she found herself unable to cope with the pollution in the air of Jerusalem and returned to the less toxic climes of Sweden, where she continued to write a regular column for Svenska Dagbladet, almost until the end. She had been ill before her death, but the nature of her illness was not disclosed.

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